Newflash: Steve Jobs “brilliant”, “trim”, and “not very nice” - Macenstein

Newflash: Steve Jobs “brilliant”, “trim”, and “not very nice”

We’ve been on a video kick lately here at Macenstein, and while this video isn’t overly new, (in fact, it dates back to October) I found it somewhat fascinating for couple reasons.

(iPhone users click here to watch the video)

First, it provides a rare and very candid account of a person’s meeting with Steve Jobs. It seems like for every Violet Blue “Macworld brush-off story” you hear, there’s another Larry Tesler ‘When I wasn’t sure what the word charisma meant, I met Steve Jobs and then I knew.’ story”. So I’m always interested in hearing other people’s takes on Jobs, and seeing if whether or not you can potentially benefit him has anything to do with how nice he is to you.

Second, the person is in this meeting with Jobs is Martin Varsavsky, head of the Argentinian Spanish WiFi company FON. FON’s goal is to create a ubiquitous WiFi community where subscribers can share their WiFi connection with other FON users in exchange for free use of their connections, and by all accounts they have been wildly successful. FON is now the world’s largest WiFi company, and has earned the backing of both Google and Skype. So the motives behind Jobs calling Varsavsky in for a 90-minute meeting to discuss his company are open to much speculation, especially given how WiFi dependent Apple’s latest gadgets seem to be.

And lastly, I am obsessed with broken English, as are most smug Americans who cannot speak a second language themselves, and this video is like heroin to me.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this video is not what is said, but that it was ever made in the first place. We’ll have to assume Varsavsky must have left the meeting feeling pretty sure there was not much chance of a potential deal with Apple in the works, as his speaking about the meeting on the internet would seem like potential deal-breaker if Jobs’ reputation is to be believed.

For his part, Varsavsky goes from calling Steve “not very nice” to “brilliant”, and seems himself to be a big fan of Apple (the video was recorded on an aluminum iMac) so it’s hard to tell what his final opinion is of Jobs after their meeting (although he admits he “learned a lot” from meeting Steve Jobs, which I suppose could mean any number of things).

11 Responses to “Newflash: Steve Jobs “brilliant”, “trim”, and “not very nice””
  1. The Skeptic says:

    After hearing about his meeting, I bet Steve listened to what they were doing at FON, asked a ton of questions, and then dismissed him and plan to launch their own US version with Google or someone.

  2. Michelangelo says:

    FON is based in Madrid, SPAIN!

  3. Javier says:

    Dear Macenstein and Mr. Skeptic,

    A few corrections:

    – FON is not an Argentinian Wifi company. Althought Martin Varsavsky was born and partially raised there, FON is an spanish initiative.
    – Skeptic, i get the joke, no hard feelings. But for oyur information, FON is not a funny idea of a tiny argentinian that eventually achieved to see Jobso as a fan. FON is a wifi company, with a revolutionary point of view over wifi sharing, strongly based in USA, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, Hong.Kong, etc, that has between its investors a few “little” companies like Google, Skype, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital. And has partnerships with other tiny companies like BT and Neuf. You know it´s like an SME but more similar to a fucking large enterprise. Probably if Jobso ever want to make his own version of the idea including google on the deal, he´ll have to make the FON version, wether he likes it or not. So…whoops!
    – I hope my English is broken enough to give you a shot, yo junkie.
    – Disclaimer: Macenstein is for sure my favourite apple blog out there. Otherwise, i will assume you are all some kind of fat bruger-eater rednecks. ;D So this was just for your information only, and not a national anthem thingie from a hurt spaniard.

  4. I work at FON. When we knew from Martin that Steve told him at the meeting he found our shared-Wifi community approach “very interesting” and “a good idea” we where all super-excited. You don’t see Steve saying kind words about a non-Apple projects he does not believe in and we all agree he is a genius. FON is a pretty simple idea, it is just about creating the largets WiFi network on earth a lo Web 2.0. The WiFi signal is already out there, we all have Broadband and feel ok for us to share a bit of it if there was a safe way for us to do so and we got to use others Broadband when not at home, FON offers that safe way to you!

  5. Hey Javier,
    Thanks for the correction. I guess I misread Martin’s nationality as the country’s origin in what little research I did.
    (Also, hopefully you understood that my “broken english” comment was meant more to make fun of self-centered Americans such as myself who sometimes forget when they hear broken english (especially only marginally broken, like Martin’s) that it takes quite a bit of intelligence to be able to think and speak that well in two languages.)

    And Jordi, so…. what exactly are Apple’s WIfi plans?

  6. Hi Macenstein,
    Not sure about Apple WiFi plans but what I know from very reliable sources is that the WiFi chipset suppliers for China-based Apple manufacturers are lately having a hard time to fulfill the demand of WiFi chipsets for Apple gadgets production plans. WiFi is becoming a default in ALL new Apple devices and, for a Mac user like myself, being part of FON makes lot of sense as all the Apple gadgets I carry with me are reaching for WiFi wherever I go!

  7. Javier says:


    It´s nice to see the fast response to this kind of questions by a Fon Team Member. I think that can give a very accurate idea of the geekery degree of all Fon members and founders. Fon is the first enterprises i know in Spain that i guess any single worker knows what´s a blog, and in general terms the web, about.

    And Macenstein, as i told before, no hard feelings at all. I really digg into your sense of humour, and i was true when i said that this is my most beloved english spoken apple blog around the world. A few significative details about Martin:

    – He is investor in one of the most influential weblog enterprises in spanish, Hipertextual, and is investing all the time in tiny but superinteresting web projects around the world.
    – He has a blog, that really shows how funny, fair-player and open businessman he is.
    – He is the only multimillonaire around the world i am sure will answer any mail i send to him. Not only mine. I barely know that he answers every single mail that user sends to him (and if you take a look at the number of Fon users, you´ll see that´s true commitment with Fon users).

    On the other hand, i sometimes think Fon ideas are amazing. Not that much, other times. But overall, is really exciting to know that there is a company like that anywhere in the world. And Fon is that kind of idea, that kind of company.

    Rgds, Dr. Macenstein and Jordi (and all the people at FON)

  8. Cool Javier,

    Hey, do us a favor, and write your friend Martin and see if he’d like to buy a moderately successful US Mac blog.
    -The Doc

  9. Javier says:


    Doc, i am afraid that, as i was trying to tell you, Martin is not my friend. I don´t even know him personally (and probably won´t do it in my whole life. But even tough if write him an email giving him an idea as a user for Fon, he will answer me 90% sure.
    So you should try it. Write him an email. Get your own broken english dose, fella´! ;D

    Aditionally, if you want to excercise the latino you may have inside, yo should try to read, it´s the Hipertextuals CEO blog. He is Martin´s friend.

  10. Can FON setup in New Zealand please? Our broadband sucks because it’s largely controlled by one company – Telecom NZ – who is essentially the Microsoft of New Zealand telecommunications.

    There is a push by the government to bring Telecom under control and they’ve just forced Telecom to splinter into 3 companies, kind of like what happened to British Telecom (BT).

    So if you want you’re more than welcome to setup shop in New Zealand, we’d be more than happy for you because being a country tucked away in the bottom of the world we rely on communication greatly so I reckon if you lot came in with the right price you’d get a hell of a lot of customers.

    Wishful thinking I know. 🙂

  11. Hi Loweded,
    I would love to have an excuse to go to NZ and visit FON NZ!!! I’ll try to persuade our managers in charge of that part of the globe 😉 Have FON soon 😀

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